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Five tips to keeping ahead, instead of behind, the holidays

I’ve been thinking about it and I think not even an Au Pair can save us from the Holiday madness. Turkey dinners, Black Friday, relatives in town, parties, gifts, decorations, traffic jams, concerts, crowded shopping centers, and that is just the beginning. Now that I am well into my 3rd year of motherhood I am keenly aware that things only speed up instead of slowing down as the family grows. I’ve come up with five techniques to keep control of this holiday season:
Plan ahead
Prioritize what is most important and when you will do those things. Shop earlier when possible; get things like Christmas cards, gifts and treats done earlier than later. 
Do less when possible
Cut out some regularly scheduled activities when possible, to make room for the holiday activities. Take some time off work, maybe cut back on play dates for the kids. Free up your schedule so you can enjoy this festive time of year.
Create your own family traditions
With our work, our extended families and our community handing us so many of their parties and traditions, sometimes we forget to create our own. Make a list of the things you can do just with you and your children. A holiday movie night, a winter hike, reading a book in front of the Christmas tree, serving the homeless at your local soup kitchen, are just a few of many ideas for traditions you can carve into every holiday season.
Just Breath
Set time aside to enjoy the season. Take a walk in your city’s most beautiful holiday corner. Enjoy a hot cup of chocolate with donuts under a starlit night. Nestle up in front of a fire while watching the snow fall. You get the point. Take time to just breath and enjoy.
Au Pair participation
Find out something they do in their country that is unique to their culture. Take time to re-create it in you home - it will mean so much to them and you might pick up some great family traditions along the way.
Applying techniques to adapt to the hurried holiday hours can save a lot of pain and help us to have the holiday season we can really enjoy- instead of the one that gets handed to us.  

Posted: 11/8/2013 2:06:56 PM by Summer Blackhurst
Joan Lowell
Great ideas, Summer! With six kids, life can be hectic without any holidays, so this list is useful year-round for some of us! As a LAR, and the first point-of-contact for families and Au Pairs, it is helpful to remind families of these things at this time of year. It also helps to enhance everyone's cultural exchange experience, rather than just rush through to the next event. Taking time to enjoy the season, be together and make plans for the new year can be meaningful, no matter if the Au Pair has just arrived or saying farewell soon! Thanks again for the great ideas!
11/19/2013 6:49:30 AM
Julie Miner
Your section about Au Pair participation really got me thinking, so I asked a few of my au pairs about their home country holidays and traditions. Their answers helped me write a blog about holidays around the world and I included their insights and traditions. Check out what they said by clicking on my name above.
11/18/2013 9:42:06 AM
Summer Blackhurst
Great blog post Julie! I loved your Au Pair angle!
11/14/2013 11:07:21 AM
Julie Miner
I love your 'Just Breathe" statement about the holidays, I think it is relevant to everybody. I wrote a blog expanding from the au pair participation section of this blog and talked about how holidays can bring overwhelming thoughts and feelings, as well as wonderful new experiences. Here is the link to my blog:…g-the-holidays/
11/12/2013 9:22:18 AM
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